Imagine a world where vehicles run on beer. Some might think of this as a devastating waste of good hops, but a University of Maryland (UMD) team sees a lot of promise for the idea. The team has been awarded a patent for a process that uses natural microorganisms to ferment biomass or gases into hydrocarbons. In short, they've figured out how to brew gasoline naturally.
The inventors, Professor Richard Kohn and Faculty Research Associate Dr. Seon-Woo Kim, are at the University of Maryland, had been awarded a patent for microorganisms that are ethanol-tolerant and which produce ethanol from biomass materials. The team has now been awarded a similar patent for the same process, but producing hexane and octane, the core ingredients of gasoline. In both cases, the fuels separate from the biomass and rise to the surface of a fermentation broth.